Niger junta leaders have sent a message to President Bola Tinubu who is doubled as chairman of Economic Community For West African States, ECOWAS amidst military coup in the country.
The message was submitted to Tinubu by the Leader of the ECOWAS delegation to Niger Republic, General Abdulsalami Abubakar
Abdulsalami expressed hope that diplomacy and not war would prevail as stakeholders brainstorm to find a lasting solution to the coup in Niger Republic.
The former Nigerian Military Head of State spoke to reporters Tuesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, after a meeting convened by the President, who is the Chairman of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
The meeting was also attended by the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr Omar Touray, and the National Security Adviser (NSA) to the President, Malam Nuhu Ribadu.
General Abubakar, who had over the last weekend held a meeting with the ousted President of Niger, Mohamed Bazoum, and the leaders of the junta in the country, said he had delivered the terms of the Abdouramane Tchiani-led junta to ECOWAS.
According to him, correspondences had begun between the West African regional bloc and the military in Niger.
He said the line of contact opened by ECOWAS through his appointment as envoy had been very fruitful, expressing hope that something concrete would soon come out of it.
“As you are aware, the ECOWAS Heads of State and Government have made me an envoy to Niger Republic and we were there over the weekend to see the military people and discussed to find a way out of the lacuna we find ourselves.
“So, that’s why I’m here this afternoon, together with the President of the ECOWAS Commission, to give a report back to Mr. President on our discussions in Niger. I must say that our visit to Niger has been very fruitful and that it has opened an avenue to start talking and hopefully we’ll get somewhere,” he said.
On the divergence in opinions of both the regional bloc and the junta about quick return to democratic rule, Abubakar said “Well, like I said, we’ve started talking, they have made their own points and then I made my report to the Chairman of the ECOWAS Heads of state and President. He will now consult with his colleagues and then we’ll get somewhere hopefully.”
Asked if there was any possibility of avoiding a military action, he said “hopefully diplomacy will see the better of this. Nobody wants to go war, it doesn’t pay anybody, but then again, our leaders have said if all fails and I don’t think all will fail, we’ll get somewhere we’ll get out of this mess”.
ECOWAS had on Sunday through its Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Abdel-Fatau Musa, rejected Niger junta’s three-year power transition plan.
General Abdourahamane Tchiani, leader of the Niger junta, had said in a televised broadcast on Saturday night that the army will hand over power to the civilian government within the next three years.
But in the interview Abdel-Fatau Musa said that General Tchiani’s proposal is just a smokescreen for dialogue and diplomacy.
Earlier Saturday, Nigeria’s former Military Head of State led a delegation of ECOWAS to Niger in a last-ditch diplomatic effort to reach a peaceful solution with the Niger junta.
The delegation met with Prime Minister Ali Lamine Zeine who received them at the airport and led them to the presidential palace.
They later met with the ousted Niger’s president Bazoum, after meeting General Abdourahamane Tchiani, the head of the junta.
It was the first peace talk led by Gen Abubakar after ECOWAS activated its standby force.